Rosie O'Donnell blasts NYC homeless policies & Republican blasts

Tom Boland (
Fri, 10 Dec 1999 19:52:09 -0800 (PST)

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Rosie O' Donnell is one of the USA's most popular prime time TV talk show
hosts.  So she's a major "opinion leader" (influence on "public opinion"
and thus potentially of voting trends).$stargeneral/htm/x_dv.htm/_ibyx/cg0302
FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 09, 1999 16:08


     Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Republican city councilman on Thursday called
Rosie O' Donnell a ``pompous, fatuous fool'' who knows nothing
about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's homeless policies.

Minority Leader Thomas V. Ognibene also said O'Donnell is using
her TV talk show to ``shill'' for first lady Hillary Rodham
Clinton, the mayor's likely opponent in a race for the U.S. Senate
next year. In October, O'Donnell emceed a campaign fund-raiser for
Mrs. Clinton.

A new Giuliani-backed policy requires homeless people to work
for shelter, with parents who refuse at risk of having their
children placed in foster care. On Wednesday, two state judges
temporarily stopped the city from implementing the shelter policy.
A hearing on the matter is slated for January.

A simultaneous police crackdown on homeless people on city
streets followed after a woman was assaulted in November by a
brick-wielding man on a Manhattan street.

In a statement, O'Donnell said her criticism of Giuliani's
policy is with taking children away from their parents.

``Since when are we justified in separating children from
mothers and fathers because they are poor, when we should be
helping to make a family stronger and offer that child and his or
her parents a real future?'' O'Donnell said.

``My concern is a humanitarian one, not a partisan one,'' she

Meeting with a group of Irish-American leaders on Thursday, Mrs.
Clinton said O'Donnell has very strong feelings when it comes to

``She is a devoted mother to her two adopted children and she
cares deeply about the well-being of children,'' Mrs. Clinton said,
adding: ``I think Rosie is speaking for a lot of parents, a lot of
mothers, who cannot imagine losing their children because they've
fallen on hard times.''

In turn, Giuliani accused O'Donnell of ``campaigning'' for the
first lady, but said the talk show host's comments could backfire.

``If she wants to have friends like Rosie O'Donnell, maybe
she'll make the election even easier,'' he said, pausing briefly.
``For me.''

On Tuesday, O'Donnell called Giuliani ``out of control'' in
dealing with the homeless and urged viewers to call him and
complain. On Wednesday, O'Donnell and her guest, actor Tim Robbins,
again blasted the homeless policies, without mentioning the mayor
by name.

Ognibene, joined by Republican Councilman Martin Golden in front
of City Hall, jabbed O'Donnell for her ``uneducated and blatantly
partisan attacks'' on Giuliani.

``People like Rosie O'Donnell, who spend their time flitting
around Hollywood and New York City television studios, have no idea
what it takes to govern in the city of New York or to provide
services for the homeless,'' Ognibene said.

``Rosie O'Donnell is a pompous, fatuous fool who has no idea
what goes on in New York City,'' he added. ``She has no right to
comment unless she wants to come here to city government and debate
on the issue.''

Ognibene said there's a big difference between O'Donnell voicing
her opinions compared with conservative radio talk show host Rush
Limbaugh and other celebrities.

``They're advocating because they have a deep and personal
abiding interest in it (various issues), he said. ``Rush Limbaugh
understands the issues. He's willing to debate on them.''

``She's not advocating for this issue,'' Ognibene added. ``She's
advocating for the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. There's no
sincerity in that.''

O'Donnell, sometimes referred to as talk television's ``Queen of
Nice,'' has gone on the political attack before, arguing with actor
Tom Selleck over gun control policy and the National Rifle

AP-ES-12-09-99 1704EST
Received  Id AP9934341877541 on Dec 09 1999 16:08


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